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  1. #1
    anspector02 Guest

    Life Insurance Beneficiary Change Estranged Spouse Contesting Death Claim

    What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? NJ and I have been reading all night, so now I am posting. Here is the dilemma:

    I lived with my boyfriend for the last 3 years. His wife left him 6 years ago, 3 years before I even came into the picture, and immediately moved in with her boyfriend. He never filed for divorce, because he did not want to share his pension with her,no move out of the marital home, which she got, lock stock and barrel. They had no relationship to speak of over those 6 years, except when she might call the house about one of the children, who are all in their 20's. He never changed the beneficiary on his two life insurance policies, one of which is associated with a Police Pension. In February of 2004, he found out he was ill with Cirrhosis of the Liver. I cared for him through all the hospitalizations and home care. In July of 2004, he changed the primary beneficiaries on both policies to my name, which I was never aware of until after his death, and his brother told me. He made his son secondary. He died October 3, 2004, and she suddenly became the bereaved widow. I filed death claims on both of these policies, and found out she is contesting both of them, trying to say he was incompetent when he made the changes. He was no where near incompetent, and managed all his own affairs, wrote checks, drove, etc. Do you need to be legally declared incompetent in this case?

    My attorney is asking for $1,000 retainer, which I can ill afford, since I never worked since moving in with my boyfriend, and was counting on the insurance money to move on. He wants to file a suit against the estate, based on Palimony Laws, or some such, as leverage for the life insurance. I have no desire to sue for part of the house. The total of both policies is $85K, far less that the house and property are worth in Ocean County. My dilemma is, do you think I need to go as far as a lawsuit with this, and what do you think my chances are of winning without an attorney? Would I be better off spending the $1,000? I'm just worried that the $1,00 will turn into some enormous amount before this over. The insurance company is talking about "interpleader action" on the decision. I have no idea what that means. If someone can explain it, that would help immensely. The policy associated with the pension says thay hope to have a decision by December 16, 2004.

    No one from the Prudential has contacted me except by form letters.

    I am also awaiting the results of a SSDI hearing, so am forbidden to even try to work at this time. I have resorted to public assistance and would appreciate any input you may have for me. For some reason, my gut is telling me that this is going to end in my favor, but maybe I should be more worried about it than I am?

    Thank you so much for any information.

  2. #2
    Widow123 Guest

    No worries

    Well no worries sort of. If you are sure that he was not incompetent when he changed the policies than you will be fine assuming that you have at least a few witnesses. Try to get together some evidence first and then try to find a lawyer that will do it for free until you get the money. Most of the time people do this to try to get something out of you so they will go away. For instance they say give us 10k and we go away. You have to consider the lawyer fees, and the time it will take to go to court. It could take as long as a year. There are some things you need to know. First - in order to be incompetent, he had to be really bad off meaning he didn't know the day of the week and what changing the policy will mean or what life insurance is.

    If you are asked to settle, only do it if the amount is less than the lawyer fees and you don't want to wait. If you are sure about your case than make sure you have witnesses and that the other person does not have a doctor that will lie about this. If you don't settle, you can request that your attorney fees be reimbursed because of a bad faith rule. Basically a frivolous law suit meant to delay payment or as blackmail. Also the life insurance companies will take out money (for their attorney fees) to send it into court where it will be settled. This will not happen for a few months unless you ask them to to speed things up.

    You do need an attorney. The best advice would be to have someone (mutual friend) who could tell the other person that they could be liable for all the costs in the end and what it really takes to overturn something like this. They have no chance in hell and the burden of proof is on them not you. The problem is you may lose the money taken from the life insurance policies, lawyer bills, and have your money tied up for a few months. That's the worst case assuming that you can defend your case in the least bit. If it cant be proven without a doubt that he was incompetent you still win. You do need an attorney but explain to them the case and ask if they will work for free after the retainer until you get the money.

    As far as the state laws and what not, this is probably the hardest contract to overturn in any state. Two wrongs don't make a right but if filing something against the house will make it easier for you, do it. You can sue a chicken for having feathers. Try to get it squared up before the interpleader because that will diminish the money and if you settle with the other person you will have to sue to get anything you lost back. I am sure that this is blackmail for some settlement. Also remember that since you can sue for anything a lawyer can charge $250 an hour and will not necessarily look out for the best interest of their client. The other persons lawyer might be telling them they have a chance so he can collect fees or this is blackmail. Hope this helps.

    Last edited by Widow123; 12-04-2004 at 03:24 PM.
  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Several States
    Interpleader is discussed in this thread:

    The insurance company puts the money in court and lets the claimants duke it out.

    If you don't want the house or anything else, you'll want to make it clear to any lawyer that you do NOT want to raise the stakes, but sometimes for negotiating leverage it becomes necessary to threaten to do so, and your lawyer may want to make it clear to the other side that unless they back off on the life insurance you just may assert a claim on other things. But don't let this take on a life of its own as it can cost you a huge amount. Pay the lawyer the $1,000, get a written retainer as to what that covers, and make it clear if he wants to sue for anything else on your behalf he will have to do so on a contingency fee basis with the amount of the life insurance NOT considered part of the recovery.

    This is intended as general information only, NOT legal advice. You are not my client and I have no obligation of any kind to you. To retain a lawyer I suggest you go to www.AttorneyPages.com.
  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    "Harvey and Me"
    Although I have never disagreed with A (there's always a first time ) your questions simply cannot be answered entirely without a reivew of the divorce decree and accompanying support order.

    2A:34-23d Maintenance of certain insurance coverage in action for divorce.
    1.a. Upon filing of a complaint for an action for divorce, nullity or separate maintenance, where the custody, visitation or support of a minor child is an issue, the party who has maintained all existing insurance coverage or coverage traditionally maintained during the marriage, including but not limited to, all health, disability, home or life insurance, shall continue to maintain or continue to share in the cost of maintaining the coverage.

    b. If a party who has maintained the existing insurance coverage or has shared in the cost of maintaining the coverage has had a voluntary or involuntary change in employment status, which may cause the existing insurance coverage to terminate, then that party shall notify the other party that it may be necessary to reallocate the financial responsibilities of maintaining the coverage.

    c. Upon receipt of this notice, the party may petition the court to reallocate financial responsibilities.

    d. The court may take any action it deems appropriate to reallocate financial responsibilities including but not limited to ordering a party to obtain comparable coverage or releasing a party from the obligation or any other order.


    If your boyfriend did not return to court to amend the decree, his reassignment of beneficiary could very well be overturned. And THAT is why you need an attorney to reive not only the insurance policy, but also the divorce decree and support orders.

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